Sourcing Bobwhite Quail & Loading the Surrogator

The Surrogator is designed to get quail from 1-day old to 5-6 weeks old in the wild. . 1-day old quail chicks are generally available in most areas – Google is your friend – or if you’re in Central Texas, contact me and I’ll share my connection. You can expect to pay from $1 to $2.50 per quail chick

I started by using 1-day old birds. Not really, they were 4-days old because my quail breeder hatches every Tuesday during the season.

My experience is that there is more mortality during the first week than any other. My breeder suggested using 10-day old birds and then keeping them for 6 weeks instead of 5 weeks. I have had much better results with this approach but I’m only able to run 2 cycles each Summer. When I ran 5-week cycles, I could get 3 cycles completed each Summer. I’m happy with 2 cycles per Summer and stronger, more healthy birds.

Bobwhite quail chicks come to me in this box. It is divided into 4 section internally to reduce crowding. I meet my breeder in person (it is possible to have bobwhite quail chicks mailed to you) and he brings me this box filled with 125 bobwhite quail chicks. I also purchase a 50# sack of the same chick starter feed that he uses to minimize any problems based on a rapid change of diet.

This is the brooding end of the surrogator showing the nipple waterer, heating unit, and feed bin. The heating unit is missing the ceramic disk in this photo. Notice the insulated sides in this brooding half as compared to the wire mesh sides of the other half – the loafing end. Load the quail chicks into the brooding half and close the middle divider. They need heat rather than breezes during their first week or two.

Bobwhite quail chicks come “packed” in wood shavings.

1-day old bobwhite quail chick – so tiny!

I mount the screen covers first and then load the quail chicks gently by hand from each section of the box. Don’t be fooled – those little rascals can easily jump or fly right out – even now!

I always like to have lots of help. Kids and quail go great together!

Very young quail chicks require external warmth to survive. They will clump and smother each other without the heating unit at the proper temperature.

In the beginning, I placed feed on paper plates and added some green nutritional stuff but neither is really needed and I don’t do that anymore. Cute chicks, though!

The surrogator all loaded and ready to go. Notice this one doesn’t have ant poison either. I seldom need to do that anymore.